A striking aspect of much past-life therapy, when seen for the first time by an observer, is the obvious physical involvement of the client in the story that is being relived. In many sessions the client doesn’t just sit or lie passively recounting an inner vision of a past life with his or her eyes closed. Instead he or she may be subject to the most dramatic convulsions, contortions, heavings, and thrashings imaginable. One client may clutch his chest in apparent pain as he recounts a sword wound, another may turn almost blue during a choking fit as she remembers a strangulation, while yet another may become rigidly fixed with arms above the head as he remembers being tied to a post during torture.
To the inexperienced observer this may appear distressing, if not dangerous. Even trained therapists (more often those using Freudian, cognitive, or purely verbal techniques) will come up to me after a particularly violent demonstration of the past-life technique and warn me of the dangers of provoking a psychotic break.
Yet for many therapists now practicing past-life therapy violent emotional release is not just a commonplace of our work but in many cases an essential part of it. More and more therapists are finding that all kinds of behavioral problems and complexes have traumatic under lays from past lives which are plainly physical as well as emotional. As a result, we are naturally finding ourselves using cathartic methods to release the old trauma. Seen from a historical perspective this kind of emphasis on the reliving of traumatic events and their treatment through abreactive or cathartic methods marks a return to the very approaches Freud abandoned eighty years ago in favor of his later psychology of the ego and its defense mechanisms.